Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Few Pictures of Pots from the Firing

A tall bottle by Levi

We had some really nice results from our last firing. Got some nice shades of red and orange flashing on some pots. We did lose two bowls due to cracking and a tall bottle that cracked. I took some pictures and I made a slideshow from them to put on my blog. I couldn't upload it to my blog, so I'm trying YouTube. Let me know what you think of the photos. I'll upload them on my Facebook page eventually with a more detailed report of the firing.

There's a picture of a "salt shino" glazed tree mug you'll see. We've decided to call the glaze "scum shino" as it has a habit of coming out of the kiln with a dry scum that can be partially sanded off. I don't know what that's about. There's also a couple of pots from potter Phillip Pollett of Seagrove. You'll probably be able to tell which are his.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Simplicity, Complexity of Crosscuts and Kilns

Wood for the next firing

A large pine tree fell across our walking path recently, so Levi and I spent the middle of today cutting it up into manageable pieces and hefting it out of the woods onto the bed of my pickup truck. I have an electric chain saw, so we had to use my old crosscut saw. It was quite a workout, so I skipped my planned trip to the Y.

Cutting timber with a crosscut saw requires two people to get into a rhythm. One person pulls and the other lets the blade slide in a straight line, doesn't push. When you find that rhythm, the blade does the work.

Stoking a wood-fired kiln requires a rhythm. Levi and I have fired my Manabigama several times, and we're learning that rhythm. This kiln wants to climb quickly, and you can fire it successfully by letting it climb and keep supplying it more wood, but sometimes I want to slow it down. This last firing, I wanted to reach a temperature and keep it there, but I ended up reaching maximum temperature too quickly and shutting it down before I wanted to.

I'm searching for some parallel between using a crosscut saw and stoking a kiln. We're pushing the kiln, when we need to be pulling the kiln. We haven't quite found the right rhythm to allow the kiln to do what we want it to do. The challenge is, we're still learning what the kiln can do, and what we can do with the kiln.

It's much easier to cut down a tree with a crosscut saw. What you're trying to accomplish when cutting down a tree is pretty simple. Firing a wood kiln isn't as clear cut.

Some of our latest work

Monday, October 18, 2010

Waiting to Unload

At 640 degrees, I got this quick snapshot of the front part of
the kiln. The bulbous jar on the right is glazed in apple ash. The tall
vase on the left is glazed in alberta black.

We fired a two-day delayed firing - Saturday and Sunday.
Duster (chicken on left) took the day off and chased customers
while we continued to stoke.

I think this was a stoke with 'lighter' wood.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Final loading Approved

Levi and I finished loading the kiln today, and once again, 'Duster', hopped in and gave his approval. We've got more glazes in this kiln load. The tall straight sided bottle on the left (Levi's) has a black alberta glaze on it. The bulbous vase on bottom is glazed in "Kottler's" (recipe from my daughter), and the bulbous lidded jar is coated in my apple ash (equal parts ash, rock dust and local clay). There's also a couple of mugs up front (Duster is in the way) glazed in "Mustard brown," or as a customer once commented on a cell phone to her friend describing the glaze, "baby shit brown" (Seriously).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Loading Number Seven

'Duster,' our rooster checks out progress

We reached the front of the kiln today, then Levi and I ran out of steam, and we decided to finish loading tomorrow.

The kiln looks tighter than we've ever loaded it, but we are also testing some theories (and conjectures) about placement of pots. As Owen Rye states in an article he wrote, "setting the kiln is the process which determines how the firing will go."

We packed more densely at the top, more loosely at the bottom.

We also chose to pack the pots with little space to the left and right of the shelves, trying not to leave large gaps here and there.

We plan to fire Sunday.




Sunday, October 10, 2010

Everyone procrastinates

Tree mugs for our next firing in the Manabigama

It's been a couple of weeks or more since I wrote anything in my blog. I was going to share a video last week that my wife Mary made by accident (she thought she was pressing the flash button) of the Oct. 1st opening reception of "Clay and Blogs" in Southern Pines, but some kind of error prevented transferring the film clip to Blogger, so I gave up.

The Clay and Blogs show continues through October and includes work from 50 potters from across the globe, as far away as New Zealand.
I'm not going to try to film clip again, so you'll just have to do with a small picture at right.

Currently, Levi and I are planning to fire the wood kiln this coming Thursday. He's been making some wonderful traditionally shaped jugs. I'll share a picture when we get handles on them. We both made some multi-sectional pieces.

I've added some free poplar wood to the fuel source this time. I'm kind of low on pine. Everybody around here seems to like to fire with pine, at least toward the end of the firing. We've fired the kiln six times since I first bought wood, and we have at least another firing before we start running low. So, I should actually be ordering some more pine slabs and hardwood cord wood now before I start running out.

But tomorrow's another day, and I have a tendency to put things off....(click on the title of this blog if you do, too.)